A year ago, alert “06880” reader — and Westport MakerFaire mastermind Mark Mathias — emailed us about Altice/Optimum’s latest offer: fiber for the home, with 1 GB internet access.
Mathias had it installed. He dropped all other services — including broadcast and cable TV channels — to buy only internet service.
He got 1 GB symmetric (the same upload and download speeds) for $79 a month. That introductory pricing included equipment, taxes and more.
His speeds are “generally very fast.” here’s a test from the other morning:
Typical cable speeds are 300 Mbps down and 50 Mbps up, Mathias says.
“Why does this matter?” he asks.
He answers his own question: “Most people use Netflix, Disney+ or similar services. Higher resolutions, such as 4K, require more bits to make an image. If multiple people in a home or office are consuming this high-bandwidth digital content, fast Internet speeds are needed.
“But what I like is the increased upload speeds. Whereas it used to take hours to backup to a cloud service like Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive, they now take minutes. Posting video content to YouTube, Vimeo or something similar is also much faster.”
Yet Mathias thinks $79 a month is too high. He’s found 2 other companies “claiming to offer fiber internet service to the home.”
GoNetSpeed is new to the area, and deploying fiber in neighboring towns.
Frontier also advertises fiber internet speeds up to 2 Gbps. However, Mathias says, they can’t give him dates for when it will be available.
“The good news is that truly high-speed internet is currently available in Westport,” he says.
“Hopefully, competition for our business won’t be far behind.”
Matt Murray grew up in Weston. He’s been a Westporter for 34 years.
But now he’s cut the cord. Well, the telephone card, anyway. He writes:
For the first time in my life I do not have a landline.
My family started with CA 7-6278 (Capitol 7-6278).
I’ve had a Westport landline since moving here in 1988. It was installed by the late, great SNET (Southern New England Telephone, for newcomers).
SNET and its employees were good. Through various mergers and purchases (AT&T, SBC), the service declined as rates went up (no surprise). But we hung on to the landline (known as POTS = Plain Old Telephone Service). We liked the reliability (more on that). For a time, a fax connection was nice to have.
As the years went on we did not need a fax. But we kept the landline. It was useful when the power went out, during or after bad weather.
Recently, when friends, family and neighbors tried Frontier after getting an incentive or “deal” to switch, they went back to their prior carrier within 30 to 60 days. They said Frontier was so bad: technical, customer service, etc..
We retained the landline for “local” calling and friends far away. Loyalty was expensive, but the landline was reliable.
Up until last week.
As I headed to bed Tuesday night I saw a flashing light on our various phones. I picked one up. There was no dial tone.
I checked the other phones: same thing. I did some troubleshooting, but could tell I would not resolve it at that point.
The next day, I went online and tried more troubleshooting actions. I even went out to the NID (Network Interface Device) on the side of the house to review connections.
A chat with tech support confirmed there was an outage in our area. It was frustrating, but it prompted me to look at my bill.
My service was a “Digital Premium Plan.“ There is nothing “digital” about my landline service. I found this a bit misleading. It added to my annoyance with Frontier. The service rep said they had no estimate of when the outage would be repaired or resolved.
Reliability of a landline no longer existed. I kept getting texts saying the outage had not been fixed, and they still had no idea when it would be.
All this was the final straw. On Friday I called to cancel the service (an action that cannot be performed online).
The person attempted to appease me with a free month. After a decade of paying too much for the landline — um, no.
She offered to “hold the number” so it could be used elsewhere (“you’ve had that number since 1982.” No, it was 1988.).
She offered to have it forward to my mobile. Again, no thank you.
I realized I would no longer receive spam calls, or political robo calls. I started to like that concept a lot.
No, a Cablevision/Altice phone is no better than Frontier or my mobile.
And no, I will not be a happy camper when we lose power. I hope I can text Eversource or the Westport PD when something happens.
Longtime resident Bob Weingarten is the house historian and plaque coordinator for the Westport Museum for History & Culture. He is also very interested in, and has written dozens of articles and stories about, the environment, recycling, solar energy and social issues.
Additionally, he’s a frustrated Frontier customer. Bob writes:
In 2020 “06880” posted a story about “Dangerous Cables” of phone and video companies in Westport. But it did not mention any service issues.
I’ve had a phone problem with Frontier, For over 5 years, whenever there’s a severe rainstorm our service in Greens Farms has failed. A repair lineman always comes within a few days. We’ve been told the issue is that circuits from the pole to the house are wet and limited, so switching to an available one was not possible. Frontier had to place new cables to the service pole nearest our house.
This occurred again February 8. The line went dead. I called Frontier. They scheduled repairs for the next day, and asked me to be home.
There are more utility cables today than ever before. (Photo/Morgan Mermagen)
No one showed up or called. Instead I got this message on my cell:
We are aware of the outage affecting your service. We’re working quickly to repair the outage and we’ll let you know when it’s resolved. To check the status of your network, download the myFrontier Mobile app.
I called, but Frontier would not commit to a new appointment. I received the same message from Frontier for days. I kept calling, but nothing happened.
I missed landline calls from doctors, family members and friends etc. They emailed and called my cell, wondering what was happening.
Daily messages from Frontier kept coming. I kept calling. On February 15 I insisted on speaking to a supervisor. I waited more than an hour on the phone. Finally a supervisor was “available.”
I told him there was no other outage in my area, and I hadn’t seen any Frontier personnel trying to fix a problem. I also asked for a local repair number. He said none was available. He put me on hold, then repeated the same status.
Within an hour, my phone service was fixed. Perhaps talking to the supervisor worked!
PS: Around the block, I saw an open phone circuit box, It may not have had anything to do with my repair, but it should not be exposed.
Recent tree cutting by Eversource and Metro-North at the Westport train station evoked a predictable response: Bury the power lines!
It sounds doable, though probably expensive.
Recent tree removal (and overhead wires) at the Westport train station. (Photo/Matthew Mandell)
But that’s not the only issue. A Westporter with long experience in areas like this writes:
To “burying the lines” — and not just those owned by Eversource, but also phone (now owned by Frontier) and cable (Optimum) — you’d need to:
Get all 3 companies working on the project simultaneously
Get 100% of every house, building, traffic signal, street light, closed circuit TV camera, fire siren, crosswalk signal, etc., to agree to go underground
Every existing overhead service would need to be prepared for the new underground connection in advance (and all work on private property up to and including the meter box and service panel at the home or building is the responsibility of the owner — costing at least several thousand dollars for just a simple home (200 amp, which is not the average with today’s large homes)
Once all are agreed 100%, the underground system would be installed in conduits in trenches alongside or within the street, including pad-mounted transformers (boxy containers roughly 3 x 4 feet by 3-foot high, located along the street on the shoulder of the road)
Each home or building owner would trench from the transformer pad to the location on the house or building where the meter would be (all trenching on private property is done by the home or building owner’s contractor, paid for by the owner)
Once all is ready (as in 100%), the system would then be transferred to the new underground wiring from the overhead
Only when all the above is done 100%, and every building is operating on the new underground system (electric, phone and cable), can the old overhead system of wires, poles and transformers be removed.
If all this sounds very complicated, very expensive and nearly impossible: It is!
Which is why the overhead system we look at continues as the source for somewhere around 90% of most towns’ residences and commercial buildings in this area.
Cables on South Compo Road. Burying these lines is far easier said than done. (Photo/Morgan Mermagen)
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